A group of US policymakers and advocates on Wednesday alleged in a new report [press release] that Sudan's government has committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture near the border of South Sudan since June 2011. Titled Architects of Atrocity [text, PDF], the report was released by the Enough Project, a group committed to ending genocide and crimes against humanity, and the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) [advocacy websites], who, over the course of nearly two years, used ground research and satellite imagery from DigitalGlobe [corporate website] to gather information that may serve as evidence of the government's potential violations of international law in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. In particular, the report alleges that the government intentionally burned, bombed and looted civilian villages as part of the ongoing fight with the Sudan People's Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) [Sudan Tribune backgrounder], and that officials are also responsible for torturing and killing civilians. The Enough Project contends that this ongoing fight between the Sudanese government and the SPLA-N constitutes a non-international armed conflict, thus obligating the government to abide by well-established law under the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol II [ICRC materials], which sets out the rules for non-international armed conflicts, and the UN Convention on Genocide [text]. The group bolstered its claims by also asserting that international custom established under the Rome Statute [text] of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] and the UN Convention Against Torture [text] similarly bind Sudan, and thus the government should be held accountable. In addition to referring the situation in Sudan to the ICC, the group also asked the UN Security Council [official website] to establish an impartial commission of inquiry to carry out its own investigation into war crimes, crimes against humanity, and torture in the two states.
Tension in Sudan and South Sudan has remained high since the end of of a 23-year civil war that led to South Sudan's separation [JURIST report] in July 2011, and the Sudanese government has consistently endured human rights criticisms. In response to lengthy negotiations, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir [BBC profile] this week said that he will release all political detainees [JURIST report] and renew a commitment to maintain an open dialogue with South Sudan. In February, the UN urged Sudan security forces to strengthen human rights efforts [JURIST report] and expressed concern regarding the arrest and detention of political opposition figures. In January, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] also urged Sudan [JURIST report] to end its crackdown against political and cultural groups. Al-Bashir similarly remains a controversial figure in international politics for his actions during the Darfur conflict [BBC backgrounder]. In June 2011, then-ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo said that al-Bashir has continued to commit crimes against humanity [JURIST report] in Darfur. Although the ICC charged him with three counts of genocide [JURIST report] in July 2010, al-Bashir still has yet to be arrested.